Conceived without the benefit of imagination, The Courier is a microwaved and nutrient-free copy of similar Cold War spy dramas, tinny with the shine of its shrinkwrap packaging. Planting itself somewhere between le Carré, Mike Leigh domestic drama, and a burlap sack, the film is confused in its inspirations, chasing other films of more precise ambitions. The resulting hodgepodge of derivative influences flattens the tension, which isn’t aided by an even flatter central performance. But what the film fails to understand about the genre its chasing is that they all came from a unique point of view; it struggles so hard to follow in the Cold War genre’s footsteps that it stumbles to find a path of its own, even as it navigates an untold corner of history. The Courier unfortunately makes the blanched achievement of telling the story of a man you have never heard of before while being a movie that you have.Continue reading “In Review: The Courier”
Uplifting character studies centered around big musical dreams and humble beginnings are commonplace enough to have their own predictable cliches: crises of confidence, magical circumstances that leapfrog the protagonist into opportunity, loved ones who doubt. They are all at play in Tom Harper’s country (nix the western) saga Wild Rose, a fable about a young Glasgow woman with Nashville dreams weighted by her reckless and sometimes criminal behavior. You can keep time by the how the film hits all of its very expected emotional beats and its narrative one.
But what makes the film one of the most moving recent films of its kind is Wild Rose’s divergent final perspective, one that surprises and shadows the film’s closing moments with a grounded emotional truth that makes for a hell of a soaring closing number. Add to the mix a sensational performance from future superstar Jessie Buckley as the troublesome Rose-Lynn and you have one of the summer’s most joyous movie pleasures.